Companies often plan their marketing budgets a year ahead, including those funds dedicated to event marketing. According to a survey conducted by Bizzabo, marketers allocate at least 21% of their marketing budgets to in-person events.
But we couldn’t have foreseen at budget-planning time last year that 2020 would bring such a ripple in the process.
So how do companies that depend on events for lead generation start to build relationships to fill that gap?
Marketing development funds don’t have to be discounted in these new times. Rather, they can be reallocated to marketing efforts that can extend the reach of your team from a digital perspective.
Virtual Marketing vs. Physical B2B Marketing Events
Tracking ROI derived from on-site tradeshows and in-person meetings was relatively concrete. Based on past events, companies potentially had historical data on-hand. They were able to clearly define an average number of leads collected, a typical response rate, and the investment versus the gain. They had assurance in the form of anecdotal feedback from salespeople, quick prospect response, and, of course, the trust-building physical action of a handshake and smile.
But with the current situation putting demand on an immediate change of tactic, we’re getting to a place where you may not have that historical data. Placing so much reliance on digital marketing is a new, unchartered territory for many B2B companies.
The simple fact is that the new way of marketing — virtual versus physical — won’t bring the same “immediate gratification” as events have generated. But if implemented correctly, and with the proper advertising, the results can be just as all-encompassing. It is possible to market your company and its services without that direct human connection.
Keep paying attention to those telling KPIs and LPIs, and have patience. ROI from online marketing efforts will come, but they will come slower than those associated with B2B tradeshows or in-person meetings. Rest assured, metrics from this new way of marketing will eventually lead to that happy, fuzzy feeling typically associated with successful event marketing. Companies may lose a little in the short-term, but these longer-term plays will reveal a gain in KPIs and visibility.
Market Development Funds: They Have To Go Somewhere
Making good impressions via your brand online is going to be important right now because you can’t get someone to know you, like you, and feel good about you as with an in-person event. So basically, you will be translating that into an online experience.
Your audience is at home more now, spending more time in front of their computers, which creates a perfect venue to reach them virtually.
And you already have the funds available to go forth and prosper. Monies dedicated to booth rental, off-site travel, etc., can be put towards virtual meetups, content generation, and ad spend.
What kinds of content can your company create to bolster its reach since it doesn’t currently have that one-on-one capability? How can you get your message out through digital means?
Here are a few ideas:
- Content building: MDFs can be used for creating traditional web-style content, such as blog writing, developing a new website page, or bolstering your content repository, up to and including a website rebrand. Take some of that money and reallocate toward a rebrand, including a new logo, color, theme, voice, tagline, and/or company motto. It’s a good time to consider where your brand and website stands today. It doesn’t have to involve a full-scale rebrand; even small adjustments can bring you closer to customers and potential clientele.
- Media outreach: Consider recording conversations by thought leaders on a relevant topic, creating a podcast, producing a how-to video, or hosting a happy hour. These do not have to be blockbuster productions, as many home offices aren’t equipped for high-tech. It doesn’t have to be perfect and polished or in a studio to get it done. It can be as simple as sitting in your workspace at home, turning on your camera, and doing a short how-to tutorial.
- Advertising and social media: Get the word out. If you aren’t currently sitting on top of a social media channel that has a lot of followers or a website that gets a ton of traffic, you’ll need a way to get the word out that there is new content is available for viewing. That’s where advertising comes in. Examine ways to promote, whether through social media or paid digital advertising. You have to look at ways to get it out there. Take those dollars associated with events and put those toward ad budgets to really break through.
- Telephone outreach: Though they can’t approach you in person, prospects and current customers still want and need information. There’s a way to still be available to them even with the new remote workforce. Allocate some budget toward phone outreach. Telemarketing services are a great way to put people in touch with people while we’re all social distancing.
Future-proofing Your Marketing Efforts
Yes, the current situation the world is facing is leading us to explore alternate marketing methods. But that isn’t such a bad thing. It’s compelling companies to examine if they’ve invested enough in their brand to make themselves more resilient if in-person connections are suddenly put on hold.
Sometimes, a company’s brand is their people, and currently, their people are unable to get out there in the physical world and introduce themselves. So how do you make sure people know who your company is, understand the brand, and have a human connection to the brand without physical interaction?
Of the marketers that TSL works with, 80 percent specialize in planning events. These smart marketing people do have the ability to do or learn more, but they’ve never really been tasked with doing so. Though they’re main job is attending events, these marketers now have the time to learn some of those skills that they haven’t had to use before. Now that opportunities for in-person contact have been put on hold, they can take steps to maintain their position as well as make it more resilient for the future by enhancing their skills through online learning.
TSL Marketing can help. We have many programs available for training, education, and consulting to help marketers develop skills in other areas when there are events to be had. These include general consultation on advertising, blog-writing, social media marketing, copywriting, and more.
Need help with adjusting your current marketing efforts to meet the challenges of today? Sign up for a complimentary Marketing Plan, Mix and ROI Analysis with a B2B technology marketing expert.